Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Homemade Dog Biscuits

A good friend of mine (Jani) got me a great book for my birthday back in March. It's a cookbook full of recipes for homemade dog biscuits called "You Bake 'Em Dog Biscuits Cookbook" by Janine Adams. Since our Tomas is a bit on the chubby side I decided to try making their low-fat carrot biscuits and see how he liked them. The biscuits are all made from ingredients people normally eat. I made a double batch of the recipe and all I needed was a food processor to chop the carrots with and to mix in the egg whites, chicken broth, and applesauce. I combined the carrot mixture with the flour mixture by hand. I used various cookie cutters I found in a kit at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and baked about 4 dozen cookies.

Low-Fat Carrot Biscuits:
4 Cups whole wheat flour, plus more as needed
1/2 Cup oat or wheat bran (I used actual oats)
1/4 Cup non-fat dry milk
1/2 Cup ground carrots (9 to 10 baby carrots)
1 Cup non-fat chicken broth
1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 375F

2. Combine flour, oat bran, and dry milk in a large bowl. In a food processor, grind the carrots. Add the chicken broth, applesauce, and egg whites to the food processor and mix. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir into a soft dough. Knead it in the bowl, adding up to a half cup more flour, as needed, to make the dough less sticky. Turn out onto a floured surface and sprinkle the dough with flour. Roll to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Prick each treat with a fork, to prevent it from puffing up too much. Place the treats on a baking sheet covered with greased or non-stick foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops brown. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

The dough:

The cookies after baking:
Taste tester approved!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All "Growed" Up

Many of you don't know that I used to ride, train, and show horses and that I have owned 4 horses in my life. I started riding when I was 13 and got my first horse, Ole Sugar Dan (right), on my 14th birthday. He was the best friend a girl could have hoped for to carry her through the tough teenage years. I have many fond memories of riding the trails with him singing "Ole Danny Boy" and "Happy Trails" before we galloped the whole way back home. I also remember telling him my deepest secrets as my tears soaked his silken neck and his head curved around to nip me on the bottom as if to say he was listening. I did some crazy things with that horse (like riding bareback through the woods in the middle of the night letting him lead the way) and we won our share of blue, red, and yellow horse show ribbons and champion platters. Dan was always there for me and took care of me. Dan passed away at the ripe age of 27 peacefully in his sleep and I toasted his memory with stories of our past adventures with my friends.

I've ridden pretty much all of the disciplines out there including rodeo, western pleasure, hunt seat, hunter jumpers, dressage, and eventing. I bought, re-trained, and sold my first horse, Valcour, when I was 17. I used the proceeds to purchase a 2-year old ex-racehorse named Lusty Gambler. I bought her to ride and train her for dressage and eventing and to breed her in the future. After I relocated to Connecticut in 2001 (from North Carolina) I bred her while I finished up my Bachelor's degree. On April 7th, 2004 Baltic Hartwin (Hartwin for short, which means "Brave friend") was born.

When Hartwin was old enough, I moved him to Connecticut to be with me and leased out his mother to a woman who wanted to rebreed her to the same stallion LA Baltic Sundance. Hartwin's full sister, Cassidy, was born a year later. Cassidy is a beautiful chestnut girl with not a speck of white on her which is rather rare for a brown horse. When she was a weanling she was shown in hand and was champion qualifying for a prestigious breed show called Devon, held each year in Devon, PA. After Cassidy's birth, I leased Sandi out to a young girl from the barn where she had been boarded. Rachel fell in love with Sandi from the start and after her lease was up I sold her as my horse's heart was truly not mine anymore. They are a great pair today and I'll never forget the day I flew down to North Carolina and signed Sandi's registration papers over to Rachel. She was so excited she couldn't sit still. It reminded me of a 14 year old girl I once new as she peered over the stall the morning she found out that beautiful boy named, Dan, was hers. Yup! That would be me. :)

Once Hartwin was in Connecticut, I began his training and took him to the Swedish Warmblood inspection in New York where judges, flown in from Sweden, judge weanlings, young horses, stallions, and mares each year and grade them based on their gaits (the way they move), look, and overall suitability and quality of breeding as it applies to the guidelines set forth by the Swedish Warmblood Association. Hartwin was approved and got branded that day. Here is a photo of him on his inspection day as a yearling (left). So handsome!
Soon after his inspection, I started to teach Hartwin to accept a saddle and bridal and eventually taught him how to carry a rider on his back. Around this time I had started grad school and met A.R., who would become my future husband. In November 2007, I made the tough decision to sell Hartwin as he was at a crucial age (3) to start recieving vital training under saddle that would stay with him for the rest of his life. I did not have the time to train him myself due to working full-time and taking grad classes at night and affording a personal trainer was out of the question. Hartwin is now in a wonderful home with his new owner, Marie, and is doing wonderfully. She started showing him in Dressage last summer and has been nice enough to keep in touch with me. I cannot believe how grown up my baby boy is! I feel like such a proud parent to see him doing so well. He turned into such a beautiful horse and I can't wait to visit him this summer and see Marie parade him around the show ring.

Here is a picture of Hartwin with Marie that she sent to me this month. This photo of them was taken last summer (2008):

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

30 Minute Shepherd's Pie Recipe

This recipe is husband approved! He had seconds the night I made it and requested I pack some of the leftovers in his lunch the next day. Right before lunch, A.R. (this is how I'll refer to my husband going forward in my blog just to keep some privacy as it is public) had to leave his office unexpectedly and called me to whine because he left his lunch bag on his desk and wasn't going to make it back to work. He seriously considered driving a half hour out of his way to go back to the office and "rescue" the leftovers from the trash. They were in a refrigerated bag, but I doubt they would've been safe to eat the next day with no ice pack in it.

I found the recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray's 30-minute meals. I used the lighter options (lite chicken broth instead of cream in the potatoes, softened lite cream cheese instead of sour cream, egg beaters instead of the egg yolk, ground turkey, and "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter") when I made the recipe. The next time I make it I'll probably add either extra chicken broth to the potato mixture or a little salt as I like my potatoes salty and didn't find them salty enough. I also will season the turkey a bit more with salt and pepper and perhaps a little Adobo while browning it in the skillet.

2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons sour cream or softened cream cheese (I used the cream cheese)
1 large egg yolk (I used Egg beaters instead)
1/2 cup cream, for a lighter version substitute vegetable or chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 3/4 pounds ground beef or ground lamb (I used ground turkey)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter (I used "I Can't Believe it's Not Butter!")
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or broth (I used vegetable broth and the gravy turned out delicious)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire, eyeball it
1/2 cup frozen peas, a couple of handfuls
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.

While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef or lamb. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. If you are using lamb and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas.

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

I'd like to thank my coworker for giving me the idea to look up and make this recipe. If it wasn't for their aromatic (in a good way!) leftovers I never would have gotten the idea. It was perfect for a rainy cold spring day. A.R. has asked that I make it at least once a week and said it tops his old favorite recipe that I make.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Heather and this blog is going to be my outlet as I explore life as a woman, wife, and (eventually) mother. I plan on posting exciting moments in my life, random thoughts and blurbs, delicious recipes I come across, home decor ideas and inspirations, my adventures in domestication, and anything that comes from my heart. Hence, my blog name: Heather's Hodgepodge.

hodgepodge (Häj-päj) noun: a heterogeneous mixture : jumble

My hope is that someone, somewhere can take something away from this blog whether it's a great recipe idea, sewing tips, home decor shortcuts, money saving advice, or just a little piece of my infinite wisdom (HA! I kid. I kid.) Most of all, this blog is my outlet. Read to your heart's desire and feel free to comment if you so choose.

Happy Reading!